Mick McCarthy is refusing to let ongoing injuries to a trio of influential players undermine Wolverhampton Wanderers’ confidence ahead of the Championship promotion run-in.
This afternoon’s Molineux meeting with the division’s crisis-club, Southampton, kicks off the final five games of the season for McCarthy’s long-term leaders.
Wolves must tackle the Saints without Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Michael Kightly and Chris Iwelumo, who was the victim of a filthy tackle in Monday’s derby defeat to Birmingham.
A scan has revealed that Iwelumo has damaged his knee ligaments and although the injury is less severe than first feared the Scottish international striker could still miss the rest of the campaign.
It is a further setback to Wolves who are already missing Kightly after the winger broke his foot during a training ground practice match at the club’s Compton headquarters last week.
Ebanks-Blake, Wolves’ top scorer and the division’s player of the year, is nearer to fitness, although today’s match will come too soon and a return for Monday’s visit to Derby County is more realistic for the England under-21 striker who is suffering with hamstring trouble.
McCarthy accepts that injuries are an unavoidable by-product of football and cannot be used as an excuse for his team to lose their focus during the remaining weeks.
“Chris is not as bad as we first thought he would be, but he’s still got medial ligament damage and bone bruising,” he said.
“But he’s doing stuff in the pool. There is no time limit on it – he’s out for this weekend and then we’ll see.
“But he’s fairly optimistic about it actually. There’s not long to go though and it’s really about giving him a chance to settle down.
“He’s relieved with it after the tackle so we’ll see. He hasn’t done a lot yet.
“Sylvan is not fit for tomorrow, but hopefully he’ll be fit for Monday.
“He quite clearly damaged his hamstring, so it’s not a precaution that he’s out – he’s not fit to play.
“Have we got any more injuries? Aren’t injuries to Chris Iwelumo, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Michael Kightly enough?
“It happens. It’s happened to everyone else. We’re not immune from it. We’ve got a good squad of players and if we miss them, we’re still all right, that’s the main thing,” McCarthy added.
Southampton visit Molineux against a backdrop of financial uncertainty after their backers, Southampton Leisure Holdings Plc, collapsed last week with debts of about £30 million.
The Football League has ordered an investigation into the club’s finances before deciding whether to impose a 10-point penalty, which would effectively relegate the Saints.
Luton Town director Stephen Browne has revealed the club are prepared to take legal action against the Football League if they fail to dock the Saints points.
The Hatters were handed a 20-point penalty for a similar offence last season when their holding company, Jayten, entered administration and Browne is keen for consistency.
“The Football League have continually spoken about the integrity of the competition,” he said.
“But, if there is some way football clubs can rack up debts and put them in the name of a holding company, who is their 100 per cent owner, and enter insolvency and anything can happen to that company with no result to the football club, it is giving permission for every football club to live beyond its means.
“Personally, I would be staggered if the Football League turn around and allow this to happen without a deduction,” he added.